Category Archives: commentary

“Once you eliminate the impossible…

“Once you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, no matter how improbable, must be the truth.” – Arthur Conan Doyle, Sr. (Scottish writer, creator of the detective Sherlock Holmes, 1859-1930)

Doyle was on to something. Something that I should know by now and yet it evades me is to methodically search out a thing sometimes when the pressure is on.

We recently had a run-in with a SQL script that was not behaving as it should. But we didn’t know that, what we knew is that records had disappeared. No trace that we could see immediately.

We looked for them and thought maybe there was some sort of deletion done intentionally by users. Nope. Corruption? Not likely – Other functions and data were fine. Then we looked at the most obvious script that could have caused the issue. It looked like there were improvements that could be made to the script, however, it looked impossible that it could actually perform the delete we were suspicious of without making a copy of them prior to the delete. This was a correct assumption, however, I continued to try and prove it wrong.

The simpler and more logical approach would have been to get a list of all of the scripts that would ever do a delete and see if any of them had the possibility of causing the issue. I had actually suggested this and then got stuck on this one.

The problem turned out to be a companion script that usually only copied out records to archive them after they were 90 days old. It has been in production for years running just as it does today. It can’t be that…?

Well the script happened to convert a date after subtracting 90 days from it into a string. This would be all well and fine if the string was in year/month/day order, but it was instead in mm/dd/yyyy order. So when it came to comparing to see if a record was old enough to be archived, and it compared the month of January 4th, 2011 (01/04/2011) to October 7th, 2010 (10/07/2010), it actually only looked at the first character to determine that the date starting with “01” was less than the one starting with “10”. So it archived the record, causing us a bit of a panic.

Doyle also said: “There is nothing as deceptive as an obvious fact.” Likewise, this eluded us. I spent a lot of time trying to see if a long shot was the trouble, when all along it was an obvious fact sitting right beside me.

It is worth it to take a breath and assess an emergency situation before running headlong into what you think may be a solution. A thorough assessment would have saved us an evening of trouble. Hopefully I remember this next time.

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How Accountants Kill Innovation

This article shows the value in taking small steps (sort of like agile) toward a project while continuing to assess its value can lead to great rewards rather than trying to assess all of the value up front prior to doing any investment.

A good, short read.

How Accountants Kill Innovation

What’s the Point?

It seems each year that we go into the Holiday seasons that I find that the American celebrations of Thanksgiving and Christmas become made more and more trivialized by efforts to take the meaning of the celebrations out of them (or at least kept at a good distance) and concentrate on the celebration itself. But the result leaves me feeling really empty. Saint Nick would not be happy, nor would “Honest Abe.”

A celebration without knowing why you are celebrating… No doubt we can simply revel in the nearness of family and friends. That has very high value, but I simply cannot exchange the deeper elements for this, since these are always included anyway.

Abe Lincoln made the initial proclamation of Thanksgiving official, opening it with the following words:

“The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies.  To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God.” from http://www.classicallibrary.org/lincoln/thanksgiving.htm

I think we have done some forgetting. It is easy to do, and easy to think that we are self-made. Pastor Bob, last week at my home church community said if we are self-made, then Thanksgiving becomes a narcissistic event. I hadn’t thought about it that way before, but it is true. We are just looking at, and thankful to ourselves unless we can give thanks to Someone greater.

I encourage you to look to our Heavenly Father and thank Him for health, provision and for life itself. It is by Him that all things exist and are sustained.

So I give thanks for – man the list is so long! I am very thankful for life and family, and for a great job and coworkers, for friends near and far, and for all of the great things that we get to play with in this day and age – especially in the realm of recording and music.

Life almost ended for both Kathy and I at different times over the last 10 years and it is not something that we take for granted. I know what it’s like to wonder if your spouse is going to make it, and I know what it is like to have a miracle save her when the doctors said that nothing would ever change. I know what it is like to need a motorized scooter to get around the store and have a hard time just walking from one room to another, and to have the doctor tell me that my prognosis is: “you’re alive…” So we try and not take anything for granted.

I am thankful for my wife who has put up with a lot of crap from me and yet has loved me. She is my prize and I am always thankful for her. I am thankful for each of my girls. Nikayla with her inspiring writing and creative hand, Jessica with her passion for children and love of the arts, Shakira, the social butterfly and musician, and Amanda my spark and fire, with vocal, musical, and many other talents, and a great amount of energy and enthusiasm that she brings to every endeavor great and small. And all of the talents I have mentioned specifically for each the other girls also have in good measure.

Our Josiah surprise baby boy was a very pleasant addition to our clan and has kept life lively, playing guitar, driving cars and bikes through the house, singing made up songs, and playing tag with me and the girls. I have a house full of amazing, precious people all full of greatness and potential. I am so glad that we get to watch them grow and live out their visions.

I am finally also so thankful for a relationship with a God that is not just sitting far away somewhere in Heaven, but comes down and speaks to me, directly and through others, and often confirms what He is saying through multiple people. He has changed me forever by His love, and has made me into someone that I could never have “self-made” no matter how much energy I could muster up. Thank you Father for your love, mercy and compassion toward us. Thank you Jesus for making it possible for me to be adopted into Your family. Thank you Holy Spirit for speaking and guiding me, when I have often no clue what to do!

Peace to all and a holiday season full of thankfulness and remembrance to the Reason for the seasons!